Julian Forman

Julian Forman

The lab meets the law

Julian’s career deviated from tradition as soon as he decided to pursue law.

Like his sibling and father, Julian was set to follow his family legacy of attending medical school. While he completed an undergrad in sciences and almost decided to pursue a graduate program doing scientific research in bio sciences, Julian drifted from the path set for him. This turning point stemmed from the isolation he felt doing work with only lab mice as companions. 

When he came to the realization that medicine was not in the cards for him, Julian looked for other career options. Having an interest in law (and sunshine), he crossed the border to go to law school in California. Through his internships and thesis work, he found the perfect fit in IP law. Julian also met his now-wife (and now fellow lawyer), Jessica, in law school.

Upon graduation, Julian pursued a career in big law at Pillsbury Winthrop, a full-service law firm in the U.S. His work over the next 4 years consisted of a mix of patent litigation and patent procurement. He made a switch to Kirkland & Ellis, where his work shifted to focus exclusively on IP litigation, which became a love-hate relationship for him. While he loved the work he was doing, he was often on the road working on cases across the country. Having two young children with both parents in Big Law, Julian was concerned that his family unit was bound to experience some struggles. After maternity leave, his wife Jessica was struggling to reacclimate to her demanding Big Law schedule. It was clear to the power couple that it was time for a change.

Not only did Julian make the leap to leave big law, but he also made the leap to come to Canada.

The family settled in Vancouver, BC, where Julian found an in-house counsel position with a pharmaceutical company. The danger of working in biotech is that there is always a threat that the company will fold and you will be out of a job. Regardless, Julian took that risk and continued to work in-house for several years before deciding to venture out on his own. He realized that after working for Big Law and inhouse he had gained a lot of valuable skills that he could offer to companies. He made the choice to practice law as a consultant, which allowed him the flexibility to “pick and choose” his clients and his work.  

While he may have left the traditional practice of law, Julian continues to work in the same field with early-stage biotech companies. The catch? He is never hired exclusively for his legal services. His less traditional role also encompasses advisory and consulting services. Julian finds that his work is more solutions-oriented and less about fine legal analyses – although he doesn’t mind the latter. Being business-oriented allows Julian to bring in a fresh perspective to analyzing problems; it gives him the opportunity to be more than just a lawyer. Rather, it allows him to step into the shoes of a business partner. Julian loves that he is able to continue to explore his passions for the med tech and healthcare sectors.

All that said, Julian’s job comes with its own set of challenges. He still answers to clients and keeping a steady stream of work sometimes proves to be difficult. However, the overall scope of his job is a much better fit for him than Big Law or in-house work were. In Julian’s line of work, the key to success is knowing how to delegate and use external resources to your advantage.

Did the steps from Big Law to in-house to solo practice come with steps up in income? 

No, but Julian still maintains a comfortable lifestyle. Despite a dip in income, he still makes a living he is happy with. Julian has found ways to leverage his resources and a month into the pandemic, he got his own office space where he has managed to minimize his overhead costs. The flexibility of his practice also affords him quality time to spend with family – although, he admits that it is easier to balance his schedules now that his kids are teenagers. While his kids are playing soccer, applying to universities, and spending time with their friends, Julian is able to pursue other interests including cooking and even dabbling as an amateur photographer.

Do it for a reason; whether you’re unhappy where you are, or another path seems more interesting.

At the end of the day, Julian loves helping companies produce a product that helps people. For those looking to make a career change, Julian says to take the time to do things right. Create a plan to outline what you want to do before jumping headfirst into a new venture. It is inevitable that mistakes will be made along the way, but if you put your heart into it, it will work out in the end. This confidence in yourself to make the right choices goes hand-in-hand with planning. Just remember, slow and steady wins the race.

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